La Dolce Far Niente
Our schedule is all packed from the minute we wake up till we get back to bed.
‘Oh no! We relax. We give time to ourselves.’
If that’s what your immediate response was, then let me enlighten you with this unnoticed fact that even while relaxing we do something. Watching television, scrolling through the screen of your brand new iPhone or munching on something, all this is work. So be it work or relaxing we are all ‘doing’ something throughout the day.
‘Yeah, that’s so much of productivity right?’
Wrong. When you occupy your mind with predetermined tasks and rewards for accomplishing those tasks and then fill up your to-do list with a brand new set of tasks, then when the hell are you going to give your mind and brain time to rejuvenate itself? When will you actually create instead of consuming and following certain pre-existing methods? Even while working out or meditating, which are considered to be the reboot hours, you are putting your brain to work in some way or the other.
Why We Are Driven By The Thought Of ‘Doing Something’ All The Time
Making a list of tasks makes us feel organized. Finishing the task on time gives us a sense of accomplishment. Rewarding ourselves for that makes us happy. What does ‘doing nothing’ makes us feel? Useless, unaccomplished, underachieved.
From a very young age, we are all taught to do ‘something’. Helping our elders, cleaning our room, reading, writing, running, sports and what not. But none of us is ever told to ‘do nothing’. Why? Because almost all of us think
- We should always feed our brain with something to work on. It keeps us active.
- Doing nothing makes us lethargic.
- We can’t waste time. Life is too short.
Constantly feeding your brain drains the hell out of you. Constantly working on something doesn’t just use up all your energy, but also affects your performance. Doing nothing is actually one of the most productive ways to use your time. How? Read along!
Why Should We Do Nothing! (Sometimes)
Remember the last time you stared into space and counted the stars or simply sat down and stared out of your window or just allowed your brain to wander with no specific purpose (not even observation) If yes, then try and remember how it made you feel. Calm, Isn’t it? And if you don’t then try it tonight for 15 minutes.
Doing nothing enables your mind to explore the lost ideas and thoughts. Since you don’t have any specific tasks to attend to, your brain is not in any rush and you’ll be amazed to see what it does to your mind. The most creative thoughts and ideas occur when we are actually quite detached to what we were working on.
But if you are constantly thinking about the expected amazing idea while you’re doing nothing, you are actually doing something. So that’s a fail. Instead, think or write or read nothing. Just be. Observe what it does to you because it’s different for different people. You may or may not get an idea. But it adds stillness and calmness to your life.
Consciousness, Mindfulness and Meditation
You start appreciating your present instead of being excessively bothered about that deadline you need to meet or that lunch date you planned the next day. Living in the ‘now’ and observing and savouring the present are the major by-products of doing nothing. You become more awake and conscious when you are doing a task and your entire focus is driven towards completing that task, which in a way brings out the best in you.
Mindfulness is something that’s caught up everyone’s attention since the past decade. We are all so engrossed in our life that we fail to appreciate the little things. We forget to live in the moment. Doing nothing actually enables you to be more mindful. Mindful of your senses, breathing, thoughts. It’s meditation without closing your eyes or sitting erect.
Technology is the biggest hurdle we have in the process of do nothing. You are constantly bombarded with notifications and messages from various social networking sites, you have innumerable offers to shop online, or you have YouTube to ‘relax’. How will we do nothing amidst such chaos? Easy! (Actually not but gets better)
No.1 Fix a time to do nothing like you would do a specific task
No. 2 Fix on a spot for you to savour the sweetness of doing nothing
No.3 Keep all the distractions i.e., laptop, mobile, magazines, books, pens etc, away from your spot
Despite following these three steps you’ll have this unwavering urge to do something. Play with a twig or count the number of items in your to-do list. But, remember, you need to do nothing. It might seem as hard as doing planks. But it does wonders. It strengthens your ability to withstand. Hold. Think. Breathe. Which ultimately helps you make better choices, come up with better ideas and reduces anxiety.
Other than technology, family, friends and well-wishers may fill your brain with doubts and insecurities. People who constantly keep a tab on things they need to do the next day, month or year may create anxiety and make you feel left out/behind.
Everything that makes sense and is productive takes time to get habituated to. Stillness follows the same routine. It’s not easy. So don’t be mad at yourself if you fail in the first few attempts. That’s bound to happen. Initial stages may lead to a bit of restlessness, but tell yourself that this is also a part of growing. And this will eventually reduce your anxiety. We don’t say that doing nothing will change your life forever. But it provides you with the strength and perseverance and space to deal with the conflicts of life.